Sunday, January 29, 2017

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time: God Loves the Humble

Today's readings deal with humility.  Humility is necessary in the Christian life.  Before I start the reflection, I want to ask you all to please keep His Excellency Bishop Manuel A. Cruz of Newark, New Jersey in your prayers.  He was attacked yesterday during a Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. For more info see: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2017/01/bishop-attacked-during-mass-in-nj.html.

The first reading reminds us that God is with the humble. He is with those who observed His law, sought justice and trusted God. We must be like this so that we may be true children of God (1 John 3:10). No deceitful tongue should be present in our bodies. We must tell the truth and never gossip or slander others (Ephesians 4:29).  We must be poor in spirit or humble, as the responsorial Psalm tells us.  God is just and keeps faith forever (1 Corinthians 1:9).  He feeds the hungry, helps those who are captive.  The Lord heals those who are sick, who are blind, humiliated.  He loves those who are just and those who protect strangers. God cares for all.  He is our father. Because God is our father, we have to be humble and follow His will. Father knows best, if you will.  The second reading reminds us that we are brothers and sisters.  We all come in a variety of ways. St. Paul reminds us that God does not choose the smartest, powerful, richest people to do great things.  He chooses the humble, those who are thought of as ignorant or uneducated in the world; who are despised and treated as pariahs.

With these, God shames those who are powerful, rich, intelligent etc.  So if you reading this think you are not outspoken enough, powerful, wealthy enough or smart enough to evangelize, do not despair. God will do great things with you that will shame those who have power or think themselves as smart etc.  God uses the lowly to show that the powerful are not powerful at all.  This brings us to the Gospel where we are taught the Beatitudes.  Jesus tells us that we are blessed if we have certain behaviors and attitudes in life.  If we are poor in spirit, we will receive the kingdom of heaven.  If we mourn, we will be comforted.  If we are meek and hunger for justice, we will inherit the land and will be satisfied.  Those of us who show mercy to others will have mercy reflected back to us.  If we are clean of heart, we will see God who is pure.  If we seek peace instead of war, we will be called the children of God.  Those of us who are persecuted for God's sake will receive God's kingdom.  This includes those who are insulted, harassed, abused all for the sake of Christ.

These beatitudes are sometimes referred to as the "BE-attitudes," or attitudes that should be reflected in our being. Being Catholic is not just going to Mass on Sundays, praying a Rosary or Litany here and there and that is it.  There is much more to being Catholic. On Friday, we had the March For Life. Hundreds of thousands marched in the name of protecting life from conception to natural death. This march is an act of seeking justice, justice for the unborn and all human life.  However, marching is not the only way we live out the beatitudes. Being kind to others and helpful goes a long way. Overall, humility is what God seeks in us. We must be humble in order to be closer to God.  The word humility or being humble comes from the word "humus" which means dirt, lower ground or soil (http://etymonline.com/index.php?term=humble&allowed_in_frame=0). This should remind us of Ash Wednesday when we receive the ashes and are reminded that we are dust and to dust we shall return (Genesis 3:19).  Man is nothing but dust, the breath of God; a mere thought (Psalm 8:4-8).  Humility is the key to the many graces God gives. St. JosemarĂ­a Escrivá stated, "Humility is so necessary for salvation that Jesus takes every opportunity to stress its importance. Here he uses the attitudes of people at a banquet to remind us again that it is God who assigns the places at the heavenly banquet. Together with humility, the realization of the greatness of man's dignity—and of the overwhelming fact that, by grace, we are made children of God—forms a single attitude. It is not our own efforts that save us and give us life; it is the grace of God. This is a truth which must never be forgotten." (Christ Is Passing By, 133)  Let us be more humble and trust in God.  Let us be more caring towards others.  May Jesus Christ be praised, now and forever!

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/012917.cfm


Please be generous and help me expand this ministry.  Donate on my Paypal or gofundme page: www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus.  God will reward you.  Donating is a form of humility. You show that you are not attached to wealth.  



Here are some reflections on holy writers:


The Lord went up the mountain that he might bring the crowds with him to higher things. The crowds were unable to go up, however, and he was followed by the disciples to whom he spoke, not standing but sitting together. For they were unable to understand this brilliant man in his majesty.
— St. Jerome
(347 - 420)


Source: "Commentary on Matthew 1.5.1," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1–13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 77.




When Luke mentions these blessed ones, he calls them simply those "who hunger." But Matthew here defines them as those who willingly and from a longing for the good abstain from fleshly pleasures. Both of them speak in a similar way. Whoever longs for the righteousness of God has found what is truly desirable.
But the yearning for righteousness is not satisfied by analogy to the appetite alone. For brotherhood in justice is desired not merely as food. That is only half the total picture.
But now he has also represented this yearning as analogous to thirst for something to drink. By the passion of thirst he intends to indicate the heat and burning of intense longing. He says that such a person "will be filled." But such fulfillment does not produce a turning away but rather an intensification of the desire.
— St. Apollinaris
(310 - 392)


Source: "Fragment 11," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1–13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 77.





Hear what follows: "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Do this, and it will be done to you. Do it in regard to another that it might be done in regard to you. For you may overflow yet remain in need. You may overflow with temporal things but remain in need of eternal life. You hear the voice of a beggar, but before God you are yourself a beggar.
Someone is begging from you, while you yourself are begging. As you treat your beggar, so will God treat his. You who are empty are being filled. Out of your fullness fill an empty person in need, so that your own emptiness may be again filled by the fullness of God.

— St. Augustine
(354 - 430)


Source: "Sermon 53.5," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1–13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 85-86.


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